Worse, Trump discredits and disgraces everything he touches. There likely won’t be a Republican party after 18 months of a Trump presidency, just a tangle of warring factions soon to be swept away by a Democratic wave in Congress in 2018. President Trump will then start making deals with the new Democratic majority, and probably more happily so—he always was a Democrat at heart, as he has repeatedly said over the past 40 years. His only consistent interest is self-enrichment. Since he’s so incompetent at business, his default mode of self-enrichment has become cheating and bilking people. Think of that in the Oval Office! Think of that at the head of the Republican Party.
Maybe you’re pro-life? Trump obviously isn’t, no matter what his surrogates preposterously assert today.
Maybe you take seriously those things you send back in 1999 and 2000 about restoring dignity to the presidency? You’ll be electing Trump despite his own on-the-record confession that he harasses and gropes women.
You recoil from the Clinton Foundation? Trump’s is sleazier—and penny-ante, too.
You’re a patriot? Did you ever think Reagan’s party would become Putin’s poodle?
The Supreme Court? If there’s one lesson to learn from Trump’s career, it is to never trust his word for anything.
Yet you don’t want to empower Hillary Clinton either! A President Clinton will probably face a Republican Congress. She’ll do a super-Obama: act by executive order, subverting constitutional restraints in order to aggrandize government and advance the social and cultural transformation of America. You can’t assent to that.
What you want to do is send a distinctly conservative protest against both Hillary Clinton’s progressive ideology and Donald Trump’s con-man narcissism. The bigger the protest vote total, the more respect your conservative ideas can demand in future. Hoist the “Don’t Tread on Me” banner, and check out who else is on the ballot: Libertarian, Independent, or Constitution Party.
The Intelligent Conservative’s Case for Clinton
You don’t vote to send a message. You vote to choose a president.
Maybe you started with Scott Walker, because he had the toughness to face a dangerous world. After he quit, you switched to Marco Rubio. You liked his vision and believed he could win. You ended by hoping that Kasich and Cruz could make a deal.
What you knew from the start was that Donald Trump not only should never be president, but could never be president. He can’t manage a crisis: He goes to pieces under pressure. He can’t build coalitions to pass legislation: When he’s not bullying, he sulks. He can’t lead the Western alliance: He doesn’t understand it or believe in it.
There’s an even bigger question that worries you more. Twenty-first century America seems to you a society under pressure. Crazy ideas that never got a hearing before are suddenly being talked about now. An avowed socialist finished second in the Democratic primaries. The Republican nominee keeps company with racists, anti-Semites, conspiracy nuts, and foreign agents. Mass shootings and race riots at home; Russian and Chinese aggression abroad—and where are America's leaders? The politicians repeat “our diversity is our greatest strength.” They wouldn’t feel the need to say it so often if it were true. The bonds of connection between Americans are fraying in ominous ways—and Donald Trump makes a habit of identifying every weak point and slashing at it until it snaps. You’ve been more successful than most people, which means you have more to lose if things go wrong. As much as you care about lowering taxes and rationalizing regulation, you also care about holding the country together against the pressures tugging every which way.